University fosters belonging with new Student Village

Emphasizing cultural belonging and encouraging student interaction, the new home of various student organizations and large gathering spaces will exist as a space for students to study, relax, and connect with their peers.

The second floor of the Whitten University Center has been completely reimagined—with diverse artwork lining its walls, two student lounges, and a plethora of student organization offices, the new addition proves the perfect gathering space for ’Canes. Aptly named the Student Village, the space aims to be the center of student celebration of their diverse identities or that of their peers. 

This space was imagined after heightened racial controversy in our country that brought many together to advocate for change. Within the University, student leaders came together to share ways that they were challenged within our community to find a place to gather that they felt seen, heard, and represented. They also advocated the need for a physical space to be named after prominent Black alumni—which is how the Student Services Building was named after Harold Long Jr. And H.T. Smith.  

“My hope is that students use the space to foster a sense of community and belonging that celebrates the diversity of the university community,” said Dr. Renee Callan, assistant vice president of student life here at the University. 

Several organizations will now enjoy expanded, remodeled space within the Student Village, including the LGBTQ+ Student Center, the Graduate Student Association, and the new Veterans Resource Center. Accompanying administrative offices will be various student cultural organizations, offering a medium for students to collaborate and network within the student-focused space. The initiative also includes culturally significant artwork, coordinated by the architect firm DLR and inspiration from students, that spans throughout the student lounges—reinforcing belonging and well-being within the University community.  

This project has been the culmination of hard work through collaboration with Facilities, our Trustees, Chair Silvers, Tracey Berkowitz and Former Chair Bass, President Frenk, Provost Duerk, Dr. Patricia Whitely, Student Government, and many others. Also, without the hard work and dedication of Messam Construction, a black owned business, none of this would be possible. “The completion of the Student Village is a great example of what can be accomplished when student leaders, senior leaders, and trustees work together to listen and advocate for students. It will be exciting to see how this space comes to life and fosters belonging in the fall,” said Dr. Patricia A. Whitely, senior vice president of student affairs.  

Many students contributed their thoughts and energy into this space and we know it will be enjoyed by all. Stop by and check out the Student Village in person!